If Legislation Passes, The FDA May Soon Regulate Cigarettes

The New York Times is reporting that Richard M. Burr, the “tobacco-state senator who tried a filibuster this week against a bill that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the cigarette industry” has apparently given up, clearing the way for the bill to pass the Senate. A similar bill has already passed the House and Obama says he will sign the legislation.

What will it mean to have the FDA regulate tobacco?

The legislation, known as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, would for the first time empower the Food and Drug Administration to measure and restrict the harmful chemical components in tobacco and cigarette smoke. It would also require the agency to review new tobacco products; ban the use of terms like “light” and “low tar” that might misleadingly suggest those products were safer; require new, larger health warnings on cigarette packages; and tighten restrictions on marketing and advertising.

Phillip Morris is in favor of the legislation, which it helped write, because (according to critics) the additional bureaucracy would help it retain and/or grow its already considerable market share.

Tobacco Regulation Bill Is Expected to Pass Senate [NYT]
Defending Big Tobacco is a lonely fight these days [AP]
(Photo:The Joy Of The Mundane)

PREVIOUSLY: After Decade-Long Delay, House Tells FDA To Regulate Tobacco


Edit Your Comment

  1. Meathamper says:

    So Phillip Morris likes this law so it pushes out the smaller companies in this business? Interesting strategy, and one that may screw up their business in the long run.

    • FoxCMK says:

      @Bearded Rapper: It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.


      Thousands of self-employed businessmen, artists, and boutique owners who make or deal in hand-crafted children’s toys, clothes, or furniture could be out of work [in February]. A 2008 federal law, with the salutary-sounding name “Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act,” could drive these craftsmen out of business.

      Big toymakers, who helped write the bill, are ready for the regulations that will go into effect Feb. 10, while smaller toymakers look likely to suffer.

      It’s virtually impossible to be an entrepreneur in industries “run” by large corporations in this country thanks to their influence in the government. Antitrust? What a joke.

      Think I’m wrong? Try to start up a telco. It’s like trying to uproot a mature Sycamore with a Grabber Reacher.

      • HIV 2 Elway says:

        @cmkennedy: But regulations are a good thing.

        • youbastid says:

          @HIV 2 Elway: Government regulation is not a black and white issue. There are good and bad sides. Obviously this is one of the bad sides, and laws should be passed that minimize the influence of lobbyists. That’s what this is, by the way, very little to do with an overreaching government.

          I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. When you elect people on the foundation that they believe government can’t do anything right, you get a government that can’t do anything right. That’s what we dealt with for 8 years – someone who didn’t believe in government, installing his horse training buddy as the head of fucking FEMA. It’s going to take a while to undo that shit.

          • Alys Brangwin enjoys RPGs again says:

            @youbastid: It was more like 30 years!

          • FoxCMK says:

            @youbastid: “When you elect people on the foundation that they believe government can’t do anything right, you get a government that can’t do anything right.”

            You’re seriously insinuating that electing politicians who believe government is just fine will produce government that runs just fine?

            Hot damn, I’ll smoke what he’s smoking.

      • chrisjames says:

        @cmkennedy: Go farther back.

        The Robber Barons of over a century ago were bolstered by strict standards and safety legislation that forced out start-ups and smaller businesses. Only those businesses with enough preexisting infrastructure and capital can put up with such sweeping changes like industry-wide regulation. Others fold up, can’t get a footing in the industry, or get forced out of their markets as regional competition shrinks in favor of single behemoths. It’s no surprise Phillip Morris is elbow deep in this, and it’s unlikely it will “screw up their business” (bar antitrust, but companies are smarter about that now).

        That may be good, or bad, or whatever, but it’s far from new. Even the most well-intentioned and seemingly necessary regulations have been producing this exact same effect over and over again. We’ll just have to see where it goes, if it goes.

  2. White Speed Receiver says:

    Do what you will with cigarettes, government. Just stay away from cigars.

  3. dbshaw says:

    Whatever it takes, just legalize pot already!

  4. Alys Brangwin enjoys RPGs again says:

    Ugh, I hate Richard Burr. He’s up for re-election next year and they’re trying to find someone to take a run at him like Kay Hagan did to Liddy Dole.

  5. Riff Raff says:

    Just one more reason for me to kick the habit for good. Although I “officially” quit about 3 years ago, I have been bad off and on since.

    Um… thanks Congress?

  6. nova3930 says:

    So the agency which is intended for and solely set up to regulate and ensure the safety of food and drugs, is going to regulate a product which we know to be fundamentally dangerous.

    Makes perfect sense to me….

    • TheFlamingoKing says:

      @nova3930: It does, if you’re trying to get the stuff banned.

      • chrisjames says:

        @TheFlamingoKing: Banned? Doubtful. Probably just a dozen more requisite lab tests (that will be outsourced and corruptible), a few FDA inspection routines (that will be neglected), and a couple of new package labels (that no one reads).

        With cigarettes under the FDA’s purview, it would be redundant to suggest a ban on them unless significant new risks were found, which the FDA has little immediate interest in investigating.

  7. ARP says:

    I think they should be able to control misleading advertising and restrict the most dangerous chemicals, but should not be allowed to ban. We should still have the right to kill ourselves slowly through stupid behaviour. My preferred way is food. Of course, if national healthcare passes, I say that smokers pay a big additional premium for that right.

    • txinfo says:

      @ARP: I almost agree completely with you. You do have the right to kill yourselves slowly through stupid behavior. But the problem is that your stupid behavior hurts other people at the same time. I watched as cigarettes killed my father. That was his choice, but I am the one who has health problems from being around the smoke because of it even 8 years after his death.

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      @ARP: You do realize that the end game of no one smokes completely screws the tax base to the tune of billions of dollars. When that happens don’t complain about having to pay taxes on anything that may be harmful to you in the long run.

  8. umbriago says:

    I know the American Heart Association is in favor of it in spite of what good might happen to Philip Morris. We’re a long way from “Like Father, Like Son.”

    Plus, if they put pictures of tumor-covered lungs on the backs of cigarette packs it’ll be way cool.

  9. HiPwr says:

    A double-edged sword. It would better for the populace at large if smoking were reduced or even eliminated. It would be bad for all the states that are still getting money from the tobacco lawsuits if the industry failed altogether.

  10. takes_so_little says:

    I’m surprised to find out this wasn’t the case already. If cigs aren’t a drug, what are they?

    • Gramin says:


      Welcome to the world of Big Tobacco. They’ve lobbied for years to prevent FDA regulation. With Congress and the White House controlled by Democrats, it was only a matter of time.

    • NobleCrayfish says:

      @takes_so_little: I cam here to type this too. I am not only surprised, but actually a little frightened that the FDA has not been regulating cigarettes.

  11. speeddaimon says:

    I just quit smoking last monday. Why did I quit? Because here in Nebraska 1 pack of Marlboro’s is running $5.50. I think all they need to do to prevent smoking and get people to quit is to raise taxes on em some more. 10 bucks a pack would do it for sure. I’d be ecstatic knowing that I was “saving” $70 a week.

    • FoxCMK says:

      @speeddaimon: Hey, it’s the only reason my father quit while he was on active duty in the Navy. He couldn’t afford his habit anymore, so he quit.

      • youbastid says:

        @cmkennedy: It’s good that it worked for you, but I think you might be a special case. They’re about $10 in NY, and every time I go I still see broke-ass people smoking cigarettes every day.

  12. Willow01 says:

    Guess, I’m happy I get my smokes shipped to me from overseas….nothing says deal like 60.60 (shipping included) for 3 carton of Camels from Europe.

  13. ct_price says:

    Taxes are akin to prohibition – they disincent you from starting/continuing but set up a rich environment for the black market to thrive. And we saw how well that worked in the 1920s. Regulation is best even though the organization tasked with said regulation is not that great at it.

    If they can’t find a source for E. Coli on some damn hot peppers, how on Earth can they prevent millions of children from smoking and getting millions more to quit?!?

  14. Micromegas says:

    Good. Hopefully they’ll place an outright ban on tobacco products and save us all a little bit of money on our health care costs.

    • CharlieInSeattle says:

      @Micromegas: Ya because the war on drugs has worked so well. /sarcasm.

      So you don’t mind if the drug cartels get a new business then?

      • txinfo says:

        @CharlieInSeattle: The so called ‘War on drugs’ is a total crock. If the government really wanted to put an end to illegal drugs, it could do so within 30 days. The thing is, they don’t want to. They are making so much money off of the drug trade. All of these drug dealers who are making all of this money. What are they doing with it? Stuffing it in the mattress? No. They are spending it. And in doing so, they are having to pay taxes on the things they are buying: homes, cars, boats, etc…

        The government is the big winner in the drug trade.

    • HiPwr says:

      @Micromegas: Why stop there? Why not ban alcoholic beverages, too?

    • morlo says:

      @Micromegas: Smokers save money by dying early. And they don’t to go the ER whenever they have a cough.

  15. edesignway says:

    Or just go to an Indian Reservation… Can’t be taxed.

  16. waystland says:

    her in Alberta they cost 12.50 a pack and are going to 15.00 in Jan. still see some 20 year old chick buying them on her credit card, and she is very vary pretty but smells like $h!t and im going on a limb here taste like it too… too bad

  17. P_Smith says:

    Instead of taxing health benefits, Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy should be asking for another tax increase on cigarettes…around $5 a pack.

    • FoxCMK says:

      @P_Smith: But you gotta ask yourself…who’s padding Teddy’s pockets more?

      I’m ashamed to share a surname with that group.

  18. ElizabethD says:

    Anyone know whether POTUS still smokes? I know he had pledged to kick the habit.

  19. LiveToEat says:

    Seems to me the FDA should regulate nicotine, not tobacco.

    Is the ATF now just gonna be the AF?